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Old 01-03-2008   #1
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Default Chip-makerís Delays Cause Home Theater Industry Woes Late in 2007

Unless you are Onkyo and you are using a Texas Instruments based receiver platform and chipset, it's likely there was a little Scrooge in your Christmas. With the advent of HDMI 1.3-based formats like HD DVD and Blu-ray, complete with their copy protection and advanced surround sound formats, consumers are looking for new receivers to control their cutting edge home theater systems. However, the store shelves this holiday season are bare.

The reason for the shortage in fully functional HDMI 1.3-based receivers is delays in one of the most popular chipsets from Cirrus Logic that was promised for a March 2007 delivery. It was then reportedly redesigned after CEDIA 2007 in September with a promised (and missed) release date of December 2007. Multiple sources tell AVRev.com that the new chip from Cirrus Logic is far better with the post-CEDIA changes. Specifically, the chip is more simple and more stable, yet consumers struggle to understand why they canít find an effective HDMI 1.3 solution for their home theater systems.

The Consumer Electronics Association refused this past fall to allow 1080p video to flow through analog component video cables, which would have kept this market shortfall from happening. Hollywood studios simply have too much say with the CEA when it comes to copy protection, thus consumers still struggle through clunky and intermittent functionality via HDMI and poorly implemented HDCP copy protection. This leaves millions of potential clients on the sidelines. And it is not just for receivers, but also for HD DVD and Blu-ray players as well as new HDTVs to go along with them.

The one cable connectivity of HDMI is of major significance, but the failures of copy protection has made HDMI a hated term with many consumers, installers and salespeople alike. Imagine a world where your Blu-ray player only took one cable plugged into your receiver with the highest level of video and audio performance, and one more cable went from your receiver to your HDTV. Thatís simple to the level where uncommissioned Best Buy and Circuit City salespeople could actually embrace the complexities of todayís home theater technologies without worrying about the dreaded consumer return. Just like an Apple iMac has "A plug into B and B into C", home theaters have the potential to have the same level of simplicity.

To get to one cable fits (and works with) all connectivity, it's likely going to take the widespread release of this Cirrus Logic chip, as well as some improved updates to the HDCP copy protection via HDMI. OEM manufacturers of some of the worldís best receivers and AV preamps say that they expect these changes by late March or early April 2008 and not much later. Consumers are tired of waiting for the promise of simple connectivity. They will accept copy protection but not at the expense of the functionality of their entire system, which is the value proposition that the CEA and the Hollywood studios are forcing down throats for the past year of the HD disc format war.

by: Jerry Del Colliano
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